Forest Preschool & Kindergarten
Our early childhood cooperative is a place-based outdoor early learning program for children age two to six years old. We meet from 8:30—1pm, Mondays through Thursdays, rain or shine. We also offer an extended care option until 3:30 pm. As this is a cooperative preschool, each family makes an agreement to stay during one full school day each month. Read more on our parent cooperative.
During the school day, teachers and children collaborate with our environment to better understand the world we share. Our place-based program takes place at local woods, creeks, urban farms, and orchards, where our class engages with each environment as a living laboratory. We build our relationship with this natural classroom throughout the year to experience multiple seasons of that environment.
Berkeley Forest School's approach maintains emphasis on the process of learning over the product and expected outcomes. All teachers have a solid foundation and years of experience in early childhood education and child development, and practice culturally responsive, and developmentally appropriate teaching. With our inquiry-based approach, our learning is free from the limitations of pre-written curriculum. Instead, we venture collaboratively into the unplanned, unexpected, and endless wonder of the unknown, with thoughtful teachers and incredible co-op parents to help support our learning.
We provide children the space to grow their creativity, critical thinking skills, and social-emotional literacy by cultivating a collaborative and respectful group dynamic. Children are inspired to direct their own learning. Through observing a child's play, a forest school teacher can thoughtfully craft play-invitations, pose questions, or tell stories, which will support a child's investigative process by giving them the tools they need to ignite further ideas and critical thought. Read more about our educational approach.
In the woods, we regularly come across dead, injured, or mating animals. These are topics many parents are not experienced in talking about with their children, or haven’t had the opportunity to formulate their own thoughts on a subject such as death. Our teachers are sensitive to this challenge for many parents, and will gladly model ways in which we can have productive conversation with young children about these topics.
allergies & food sharing
There is a variety of chosen food differences in our community, as well as food allergies, and insulin needs. We do not adhere to a strict school-wide policy, rather, our practice around food, food sharing at school, and potlucks for family gatherings are always inclusive to the entire school of families for that school year. We acknowledge that food sharing, offering and receiving food from one another is a culturally significant practice for many of the families here at school.
Children here are trusted with how they choose to use their time. Children are free to roll in the leaves. If they choose to spend their time that way instead of sewing a felt creature with a teacher, their choice and their values are honored and respected. We have the luxury of time to revisit any craft or project that we introduce to the children. This time belongs to them. This is a “yes space” for children. Teachers are available to help “translate” the value of the children’s activities to adults, when needed. Feel free to ask!
“It’s their turn. It’s their turn. It’s their turn.” — Sheri Glucoft-Wong, LCSW